og:image" content=""https://s12.postimg.org/akaze8k99/blog.png"" /> Gidman's Treasures And Nuggets: Recommended........

Sunday, 18 April 2010


Deutsche Elektronische Musik - Experimental German Rock and Electronic Music 1972-83 (2xLP) (Soul Jazz Records)

"The first seeds of German rock and experimental electronic music were planted in 1968, as students and workers in Paris, Prague, Mexico and throughout the world demonstrated against mainstream society, the war in Vietnam, imperialism and bourgeois values. The birth of a counter-culture, drug experimentation and social change expanded musical worlds. Germany experienced its own cultural revolution fuelled by these worldwide student and worker revolts and by a generation’s desire to rid itself of the guilt of war.

Many German youth turning their back on mainstream society. From the opening of the first collective/cooperative in 1967, Commune 1, in Berlin, to the formation of the Baader-Meinhof terrorist group and the bombings, kidnappings and killings of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (RAF), young Germans sought out new values and a lifestyle outside of ‘the system’. These cooperative and communal experiences led to a number of new radical German bands including Amon Duul, Faust and Can.

Many artists and musicians believed a complete rejection of everything musically that had gone before was also necessary in order to build a new identity for German culture. At this time German music meant ‘schlager’ music – insipid pop music that hardly confronted the country’s recent historical events.

The first recordings of groups such as Kluster (later Cluster) were extreme experiments with sound; un-music, anti-melody and anti-rhythm - attempts to destroy any musical links with the past. Holger Czukay and Irmin Scmidt of Can studied music under the radical avant-garde composer Karheinz Stockhausen and Conrad Schnitzler studied art under the conceptual artist Joseph Beuys. German rock groups were as interested in musique concrète and serial compostion as they were in the psychedelia of Pink Floyd or the rock, soul and jazz music played by resident American forces.

From this beginning German rock music began an evolutionary journey of experimentation. Electronic music became a pathway to notions of space and the cosmos. Conversely, the emergence of communal living led to a number of musicians setting up live/work spaces in rural areas and developing a ‘pastoral’ outlook, with musical ideas engaged closely with nature.

And despite an aversion to the politics of American society, German rock bands were nevertheless fascinated by the emerging stateside counter-culture of psychedelic music and drug experimentation. A band such as Ash Ra Tempel even recording an album with drug guru/theoretician Timothy Leary (‘Seven Up’, 1973).

German electronic music, kosmische music, cosmic rock, space music. The objectives were to create new music, ‘free’ from the past. A music that gave seed out of the cultural ‘nothingness’ that young Germans felt as a consequence of Germany’s role in the Second World War. A generation who grew up stifled by the recent history of Nazi atrocities, the guilt of their parents’ generation and their disillusionment at the reintegration of old Nazis into mainstream society.

And whilst some of the bands featured here slipped by the wayside over the years, others such as Faust, Cluster, Can, Tangerine Dream are now well into their fourth decade having firmly established that which they set out to achieve – a new German music

1. Can — Aspectacle
2. Between — Devotion
3. Harmonia — Dino
4. Gila — This Morning
5. Kollectiv — Rambo Zambo
6. Michael Bundt — La Chasse Aux Microbes
7. E.M.A.K — Filmmusik
8. Popol Vuh — Morgengruss
9. Conrad Schnitzler — Auf Dem Schwarzen Kanal
10. La Düsseldorf — Rheinita
11. Harmonia — Veterano
12. Faust — It's A Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl
13. Neu! — Hallo Gallo
14. Cluster — Heisse Lippen
15. Ibliss — Hi Life
16. Dieter Moebius — Hasenheide
17. Amon Duul II — Fly United
18. Popol Vuh — Aguirre 1
19. Ash Ra Tempel — Daydream
20. Tangerine Dream — No Man's Land
21. Amon Duul II — Wie De Wind Am Ende Einer Strasse
22. Roedelius — Geradewohl
23. Can — I Want More
24. Deuter — Soham


"It began out of nothing, was given a joke name, and became the pop influence du jour: krautrock, kosmische musik, elektronische musik, or whatever you wish to call German experimental rock from the 1970s. Cited and adapted by artists as diverse as Q-Tip, the Horrors (whose epic Sea Within a Sea convincingly updates that Neu! motorik), Foals, Deerhunter, even Kasabian and Oasis (but don't let the last put you off).

The list is so long as to be almost meaningless, but a new Soul Jazz compilation, Elektronische Musik, reinforces just how wild German music from that period was. It also raises the question of why kosmische musik, which has impacted on pop for the last 30 years (just think of Afrika Bambaataa, Brian Eno and David Bowie, to name but three), is still so popular today.

It began out of the revolutionary student movement of 1967 and 1968: one strand formed communes and became political activists, others began to attempt a new German music that was not schlager, the mainstream music of the day. Their quest was given added impetus by the fact that many of these war babies knew their history had been erased. They had nothing, but that meant freedom.

This was their year zero. Informed by Karlheinz Stockhausen, the Mothers of Invention, the Velvet Underground and Pink Floyd, among others, the late 1960s and early 70s saw the formation of many key groups: Can, Faust, Amon Düül II, Organisation (later Kraftwerk), Guru Guru and Tangerine Dream, many of whom were released on German labels such as Ohr and Brain.

There are several DVD bootlegs covering this early period, as well as YouTube clips and the actual albums. What they record is a balls-to-the-wall experimental approach that takes ideas, feelings and competence as far as they can go, and then further. There are no limits. This first-time delirium continues the psychedelic upsurge of 1966-67 but gives it a tougher edge: it was, as Julian Cope wrote, "soaringly idealistic and hard as nails".

It was Cope's Krautrocksampler, published in 1995, that first organised and codified a history of "the great kosmische musik". Cope focused on the first wave of groups, many of whom were popular in England thanks to the visionary Andrew Lauder, who released Can and Amon Düül II on United Artists. (Then there was the 49p issue of The Faust Tapes.)

Since this groundbreaking study, the floodgates have opened; but the Soul Jazz compilation opens out the genre even further. If you go into the affiliated Sounds of the Universe shop in Soho, you'll see a rack for experimental German music alongside all the reggae 7"s, funk/disco 12"s, dubstep, free jazz and cosmic disco CDs. Put together by Stuart Baker and Adrian Self, the Elektronische Musik compilation totally fits that free-booting eclecticism.

It begins with Can's A Spectacle, sampled by Q-Tip on Manwomanboogie (from his 2008 album The Renaissance). There are the usual suspects: Faust, Neu!, Cluster – the last represented by the track Heisse Lippen, from their best album, Zuckerzeit – but there is a greater reliance on funky beats/breaks, and you get long improv epics such as High Life by Ibliss. The second disc ends with the blissed-out drones of Deuter's Soham, a higher-key masterpiece.

The implication is that there is more here than you ever thought. German music from this period is a bit like the Tardis: you got through a narrow portal into a huge, dynamic space. Kosmische's fertility is only matched by its desire to create something totally new, and it is that which has proved inspirational to successive generations of musicians from right across the spectrum.

Its increased resonance in the 21st century comes from the fact that Anglo-American rock has a six-decade history and has been thoroughly cannibalised. Tired of sixth-gen Brit indie groups? Sick of Americana apologists? Then let kosmische be your guide. Starting from nothing but their imagination, the 70s German groups continue to offer a third way: a long, straight road out of this cultural impasse.